King of the Road Wong says it's time to abdicate
For the services he has given over the past two decades and the honours he has won, Hong Kong cycling ace Wong Kam-po deserves nothing less than a Grand Bauhinia medal.
Wong, 39, (pictured) brought the curtain down on an illustrious career after the 250 kilometre road race, when he declared he was ready to make way for the next generation. The King of the Road's abdication came fittingly on the grandest stage of all - the Olympics - and on The Mall, an avenue associated with royalty over the centuries. Wong was gracious in his farewell speech.
'This is a good result,' he said, referring to his 36th place - out of 144 riders - in the longest Olympic discipline. He was happy he finished ahead of Briton Bradley Wiggins, who a week earlier was crowned Tour de France champion. Wong has won the Asian Games gold medal three times, including in Guangzhou in 2010, but the Olympics is a different kettle of fish. 'I'm up against the professionals and this is a longer race than I'm normally used to,' he said.
Wong (pictured) achieved many things in his career but he will always look back with a sense of regret that he could not win an Olympic medal. It was not through lack of trying, and it came as no surprise that he called for the system to be overhauled and for more support from the government and the Hong Kong Cycling Association. What the government could do was provide more facilities for cyclists, Wong hinted. The association should be tasked with providing a more professional environment to the next generation with athletes racing professionally.
He pointed to London winner Alexandre Vinokurov as an example of how environment could mould a champion. The Kazakh races professionally in Europe. Against all odds, Hong Kong produced a talent like Wong, but at the end of the day, unless you nurture talent, it will be wasted.
He says he would love to be a coach and give back to the next generation all his hard-earned years of experience. Hopefully, Hong Kong cycling will have the wheels in motion.